"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

COLLEGE FOOTBALL KICKOFF WEEKEND PREDICTIONS

My new book, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" is now available on all E-Book outlets, including Smashwords, iBooks, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.


Now that football season is upon us, I've come out of blogger hibernation and will begin posting several times a week. The first weekend of the college season begins Thursday night, with a couple of compelling matchups on the slate. Last season, a number of so-called mid-major programs and conferences made some noise in big upsets of BCS conference teams.  I will be making weekly predictions, primarily of games involving top 25 teams and other important BCS conference matchups.

UNC 31 at (6) South Carolina 34: I'm really tempted to take UNC in this game, despite all of the hype and high expectations for the Gamecocks. Conventional wisdom dictates that if you're going to pull the upset, game one is the time to do it.  The Tar Heels could be improved offensively under second year coach Larry Fedora after scoring over 40 points a game last season, but I'm going to have to stay with South Carolina, mainly because they're at home and I think their defense can slow down the UNC.

(24) USC 31 at Hawaii  17: Despite the fact that Trojan coach Lane Kiffen has yet to name a starting quarterback to replace the departed Matt Barkley, I think they still have too much for the Rainbows. Coming from Southern California, Hawaii shouldn't be quite the distraction it might be for some other teams. Last year I wasn't alone in thinking USC had national championship potential. I think the Pac-12 might be a little strong at the top for them this year, but the Trojans still have a strong roster and could be in the top ten by season's end.

Ole Miss 28 at Vanderbilt 30: This is a very interesting early season matchup of two teams on the rise in the SEC. Under coach Hugh Freeze, the Rebels have been compiling top recruits and there is some reason for serious optimism in Oxford. But Vanderbilt was the victor by a point in this game last year and the Commodores have also improved, winning their final seven games of last season and looking to build on their best record since the Jay Cutler era. I like what James Franklin is doing in Nashville, so I'll go with Vandy in another tight game.

Massachusetts  6  at (23) Wisconsin 42: The Badgers have a new coach, but a lot of the roster that now-Arkansas coach Bret Bielema took to the Rose Bowl is still intact. No contest here, with UMass coming off a 1 - 11 season.

Buffalo 10 at (2) Ohio St 38.: Buffalo saw improvement through last season, but they really aren't any match for a team that many think, under coach Urban Meyer, can unseat Alabama.

Toledo 27 at (10) Florida 24: This is not a walkover for Florida. Toledo contended in the very strong Mid-American Conference last year and could give the Gators a fight in the Swamp. Of the top teams with mid-major opponents this weekend, this is probably the best upset possibility. Florida has a history of sluggish starts, but they better come to play Saturday afternoon. I'm not a big Gator fan, so I'm going with the huge upset.

Rice  21 at (7) Texas A&M 31: So now we know that Johnny Manziel will serve a huge, uh, well, maybe not so huge, uh, actually a kind of slap on the wrist. Really? Well, I guess the NCAA showed him. Or is it them? Despite the incredibly punitive action, I think A&M can still pull this one out. But all kidding aside, Rice can still be dangerous and a win would make their season. With all of the distractions, the Aggies better get focused.

Mississippi St. 34 at (13) Oklahoma St. 31: This is an interesting showdown between the SEC and the Big 12. The Bulldogs opened 2012 with seven consecutive wins before running into Alabama, then faltered down the stretch with only a win against the beaten down Arkansas Razorbacks in their last five games. The Cowboys are coming off an up and down season, where at times their defense was virtually non-existent. I believe we'll see the SEC defensive superiority exhibited in this game, as Mississippi State pulls the mild upset.

Temple  13 at (14) Notre Dame 31:  The Irish are coming off their disappointing performance against Alabama in the BCS championship game, and the Owls should provide a nice beginning to the 2013 season.

Central Michigan 13 at (17) Michigan 34: The Wolverines won this game easily last year, 41 - 7. Central Michigan struggled early in 2012, but won their last four games and five of their last six, including a bowl game. But I don't see them having enough to pull the upset in the Big House.

Eastern Washington  24 at (25) Oregon St. 30: The Beavers host the third-ranked FCS Eagles. In recent years, these have been dangerous games for FBS schools thinking they're cake walks. Eastern Washington gave Washington St. all they could handle last season, so Oregon St. better bring their A-game.

Louisiana-Monroe 27 at (16) Oklahoma 34: This is the same La.-Monroe team that went into Little Rock last season, knocked Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson out of the game and proceeded to derail the Razorbacks' season. The time has passed when BCS conference teams can overlook their Sun Belt Conference foes in these early season games. It's a rebuilding year in Norman, so don't be surprised if the Sooners get surprised in this one. However, I think they'll find a way to hold on.

Wyoming 10 at (18) Nebraska 38: This one shouldn't be any problem for the Cornhuskers. Wyoming is coming off a 4 - 8 season against less than stellar competition. I'm not sure what the rest of Nebraska's season will look like, but at least they'll begin 1 - 0.

New Mexico St. 7 at (15) Texas 42: Mack Brown is rumored to be on the hot seat in Austin. While this victory won't necessarily change that situation, he can at least go to next week remaining undefeated. The Aggies, not to be confused with the Longhorns' former Big 12 rivals, only managed one victory in 2012. Way to go Mack, coming out of the gate with a real challenge. Come on, now. Play someone credible and maybe I'll believe Texas deserves some notice this season.

(5) Georgia  38 at (8) Clemson 35: This is probably the game of the opening weekend with national championship implications. Georgia opens the season with back to back games with top ten teams, both from the state of South Carolina, as they also have to take on the Gamecocks next week. But they can't overlook a strong Clemson team, picked to win the ACC. Even though I'm basically an ACC guy, I like Georgia coach Mark Richt and think this might be his year with the Bulldogs. This pick won't please my nieces, but I think Georgia is just a little better.

(12) LSU 24 vs. (20) TCU 27: Although technically a neutral site game at Jerry's house in Arlington, TCU's campus is less than 20 miles down the road in Fort Worth. Of course, it's not a bad drive for LSU fans, either, so the atmosphere should be a good one. I think LSU is way over-ranked after having lost a lot of players to the and in another SEC - Big 12 matchup, I think TCU will pull the minor upset.

(19) Boise St. 27 at Washington 31: A lot of experts believe Washington has the potential to be very good this season. I tend to agree and think Boise State's stay in the top 25 will be short to start the season. This isn't the same Broncos team that contended for the national championship in years past. In an unusual bit of scheduling, these two teams played to end last season in the Las Vegas bowl with Boise coming out on top 28 - 26. This time, however, the game is in Seattle, where I believe the Huskies will prevail.

Nevada 17 at (21) UCLA 28: In his second season at UCLA, Jim Mora has reason for optimism to follow up his Pac 12 South title with continued success. I like the Bruins in this one.

(22) Northwestern  34 at California 13: Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald tries to continue the remarkable job he's done with the Wildcats, hoping to build on a ten-win season that culminated with a bowl victory over Mississippi State. Cal has a new coach and is probably not strong enough to give Northwestern much of a test.

Ohio 24 at (9) Louisville 30: Led by Heisman candidate Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville has high hopes for this season. However, this is the same Ohio team that beat Penn State to open the 2012 season. Ohio began last year strongly, struggling down the stretch in the tougher than expected Mid-American Conference. I think the Cardinals will prevail, but this game is worth checking out Sunday afternoon.

(11) Florida St. 27 at Pittsburgh 17: Welcome to the ACC, Pittsburgh. The good news is the Panthers move from the Big East, the bad news is they open with the team most expect to contend for the title with Clemson. Pittsburgh's Heinz field is a tough place to play and the Seminoles always seem to stub their tow at some point. However, I think they have too much on both sides of the ball and should have a solid start to the season.

Nicholls 6 at (3) Oregon 58: Not much to say about this one.

Louisiana-Lafayette 24 at Arkansas 28: The Razorbacks suffered two losses to teams from the state of Louisiana last season, one expected and the other a shocker, at least at the time. Bret Bielema makes his Arkansas coaching debut and hopes to avoid the fate of his interim predecessor against Louisiana-Monroe that signaled the demise of the Razorbacks' season. I'll be in the stadium for this one and feel like the Hogs will prevail in a close one.

Virginia Tech 17 vs. (1) Alabama 28: My Hokies are coming off their worst season in twenty years. It resulted in a new offensive coordinator, something Tech fans have been wanting for a while now. I guess we'll see if QB Logan Thomas can do to Alabama what Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel have done in recent seasons. It's a tall order, especially with the injuries that have plagued the Hokies in the preseason. While I certainly hope Tech can pull the upset, I just think they have too far to improve on both sides of the ball to contend in this one. And Alabama, well, they're still Alabama and Nick Saban is still Nick Saban. Sorry, fellow Hokies, but I just don't see this one going our way.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

PGA CHAMPION CROWNED

Read my new book, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel": Available now for purchase at www.Amazon.com and www.Smashwords.com.

PGA Championship Recap: Having watched all of the televised coverage of the PGA Championship, this year's final major played at storied Oak Hills Country Club in Rochester, New York, I noticed a number of things worth noting.
  • Oak Hill is a magnificent golf course. Not just because of its beauty or the fact that it's a Donald Ross design, but because of its ability to reward good golf shots and penalize bad ones appropriately. The point, especially of championship golf at its highest level, is to hit fairways and greens, then make your share of putts to contend. For the most part, that's what happened this week. Even if you're Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, you can't be hitting the ball twenty yards into the rough and expect to be on the leader board come Sunday afternoon. The drives that Jason Dufner and Jim Furyk were hitting during the final round were amazing. And when the greens dried up and became firmer, they were still accepting well hit shots and providing plenty of chances for birdies. 
  • Tiger Woods is still human. Despite five wins in eight non-majors this year, Tiger still can't seem to put it together in the majors. Of course, I think it's now obvious that Oak Hill simply doesn't suit his game. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, it's a par 70. With the exception of Firestone Country Club's South Course, Tiger tends to dominate on par 72 layouts, such as Bay Hill, Muirfield Village, Torrey Pines, Doral and  Pebble Beach, where he can overwhelm the par 5's. Not so at Oak Hill, where even the two par fives were not reachable in two. Secondly, the course was set up with tight fairways and high rough, putting a premium on driving accuracy and length.  He's still having difficulty getting his driver in the fairway, so even on the holes that Tiger was able to hit the fairway, in many cases he did so with a three wood, five wood or iron, leaving him with lengthy second shots.
  • Usually considered the weakest of the majors, I'm finding myself becoming more fond of the PGA Championship. I like the fact that birdies are not a bad thing, unlike at the U.S. Open or even the Masters, where they feel like the players need to be exposed to torture chamber-like conditions in order to become a major champion. Jason Dufner played incredible golf to win, so why is it so bad that a perfectly struck iron ends up two feet from the pin instead of bounding senselessly to the back of the green on rock hard surfaces?
  • It makes me proud of the game and grateful to be a golfer and a fan when someone like Jason Dufner prevails. He takes his lumps, like two years ago when he squandered a five shot lead to lose to Keegan Bradley. Yet he's gracious enough in his post-round interview to say how privileged he feels to be able to play tournaments at that level. And then there was Keegan Bradley himself, waiting and cheering behind the 18th green, and then giving Dufner a congratulatory hug. There was a special spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship displayed by Bradley that truly touched me. 
  • Jim Furyk is really pretty tough. Maybe it's because like Furyk, I have family roots in the Pittsburgh area and I value the blue collar work ethic he displays. Dufner really was pretty flawless on a tough golf course, yet Furyk seemed to keep willing himself into contention. Unlike the 2012 U.S. Open, when he clearly let the title slip away, Furyk didn't lose it, Dufner won it, but he knew he was in a fight.
  • Finally, congratulations to Jason Dufner. His unflappable manner and perseverance should be applauded, as at age 36, he was able to win his first major championship. It's an incredible accomplishment, especially when you consider that Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Dustin Johnson, Colin Montgomery and countless others have not managed to pull it off. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

ESPN and NBC OUT-FOXED BY USGA, MLB RACES AND RUNAWAYS

They Say It's Not About Money: So one of the two leading golf organizations in the world decides to go with a network that to my knowledge, has never produced one hole of televised golf, to broadcast its leading championship and says it's not "simply the financials." Really? So what IS it about? The quality of Fox's golf coverage? Oops, there isn't any. The commitment that Fox has exhibited to the game of golf through its regional sports channels? Oops again. I mean, come on now. NBC has not only broadcast the U.S. Open for the last 19 years, but their parent company also owns, are you ready for this, the GOLF Channel. Talk about a broadcast organization with a commitment to golf, I think you need to start with Comcast. How can the USGA on one hand ban the belly putter to maintain the integrity of the game, and on the other one give a television deal to a network that until recently was never even mentioned in the same paragraph, much less the same sentence, with golf. The USGA, in my opinion, has lost all credibility regarding any claims about integrity, loyalty, honor, etc. in the game of golf. Fox has bought their way into the NFL, NASCAR and now USGA events without, in my opinion again, increasing anything except their own hype. Remember, Fox was the network that decided the way to increase the value of the viewer experience for hockey was to put a blue dot on the puck. Don't get me wrong, I certainly understand the economics of big time sports broadcasting. But the last time I checked, the USGA is a non-profit organization whose main purpose is to conduct championships at every level and along with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, to maintain the Rules of Golf. This clearly smells like a money grab by the USGA and a big investment by Fox as they launch their new Fox 1 network, clearly competing with ESPN and NBC Sports Network on the national stage. But unlike other sports, golf is not easily or cheaply produced. It's narrow demographics and expensive production because of having to cover so much real estate, especially during the U.S. Open, make it a challenging proposition that CBS and NBC have been able to fine tune over the years. Now Fox expects to jump in the deep end of the pool and we don't even know if they can swim.

Baseball Races and Baseball Runaways: First of all, I need to comment on how contested the wild card race will be in the American League this year. Their are four teams within 1.5 games of each other, and the top wild card team, Texas, is only 1/2 game out of first place in their division while Tampa Bay only trails the Red Sox by 1.5 games. If you think Kansas City and the Yankees are still in the hunt, then you can expand the race to eight teams competing for four spots, assuming Detroit's five game lead over Cleveland is safe. This should be pretty compelling and a rating's bonanza, with only the White Sox, Angels and Astros eliminated from the major markets. The team that has to be loving this is the Oakland A's. The Rangers lost Nelson Cruz to suspension and the Angels, despite the big payroll and high profile lineup, are out of the running. Love it, hate it or just plain don't get it, moneyball is alive and well in Oakland.

Now the senior circuit, otherwise known as the National League (because they were around first), isn't quite as competitive. My Atlanta Braves have totally taken the drama out of the East, what was considered by many a very competitive division at the beginning of the season. After a thirteen game winning streak and sweep of the Nationals in Washington, the Braves own a seemingly insurmountable and totally improbable 15.5 game lead on the Nationals. Really? That's almost insane.

The real story here is that the Washington Nationals, with a legitimate chance last year to win the World Series, rested its star pitcher Stephen Strasburg in the post-season. Perhaps the thought was that they were built for the long-term and would be back there again. It doesn't always work that way in sports, however. The Atlanta Braves were on top for over fifteen years and won a lone World Series. The Buffalo Bills were in four consecutive Super Bowls and came away empty. It took Phil Mickelson, the second best golfer of his generation, almost a decade to capture his first major championship. What made the Nationals, a franchise with virtually no history of success, think that they could afford not to seize the moment? I thought it was a huge mistake a the time, and I still do, for them to shut Strasburg down completely. It probably made sense in September when it was apparent they would be in the playoffs. But to rest him in October was just crazy.

In both leagues, the teams that have heated up with the weather are making news. The Dodgers were left for dead in May, with talk of manager Don Mattingly's job being in jeopardy. Not so much now as they've stretched their lead over the D'backs to five games after winning fifteen straight road games. And the feel good team from Pittsburgh is almost assured to not just break their sub-.500 season streak, but have real shot at winning the Central Division in the NL. Of course to do that, they need to avoid another late season fade like those that have haunted them that last couple of years. It's hard not root for the Pirates unless, of course, if you're a Cardinals or Reds fan.

And then there are the Detroit Tigers, winners of eleven consecutive games. That would be pretty big news except that the Braves are in the midst of a season-best thirteen game streak of their own. The Tigers are good and when their pitching staff is on, as it is right now, they are really tough to beat. All in all, this is shaping up as a terrific September and October in baseball.

Read "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel": Available now for purchase at www.Amazon.com and www.Smashwords.com.






Tuesday, August 6, 2013

NCAA RULES ON ATHLETE COMPENSATION

Johnny Manziel Hits a Nerve: There appears to be a growing number in the media that disagree over whether Johnny Manziel was right or wrong by allegedly, and that's a pretty important word in this situation, accepting compensation for his autograph. But in my opinion, there are at least two issues at play here, and in some ways, they actually overlap. I'll address them in no particular order.

The big issue at play seems to be whether Johnny Manziel, or any college student athlete for that matter, retains the rights over his or her own intellectual property, in this case specifically referring to a signature on a piece of paper or various forms of memorabilia. It can also refer to his or her likeness for marketing purposes or video clips for promotional purposes. In other words, can the university or any other entity profit from the use of these items without directly compensating the student athlete? Many would argue that scholarship student athletes are already compensated in the form of an education, especially those that are provided full scholarships. Others would argue that the scholarship really only covers that athlete's participation in whatever sport they are involved in, and if they are special enough to be able to market their likeness, autograph, etc., then they ought to be able to do so for their own benefit.

But this can get complicated. If Johhny Manziel was just as talented as he is, but was playing for Toledo, would his likeness be as valuable? If Johhny Football doesn't make his coming out party at Alabama on national television, but against Ohio, isn't it reasonable to assume that most of us wouldn't have noticed, or at least not to the degree that we were made aware of it by the sports media? Therefore, doesn't Texas A&M and the SEC have a claim that they contributed to the value of his memorabilia, thus being able to benefit as well from it's sale or appeal? I want to be clear here that I haven't formulated a particular opinion. The issues and complexity in a case like this make it difficult to do so in the time frame that this been a national story.

But the second issue is probably more cut and dried. Whether one agrees with the rule or not, it's pretty clear that if, and once again the operative word is if, Johhny Manziel took payment while still eligible, he violated NCAA rules. These are rules all student athletes and for the most part, boosters and fans, are well aware of. How can anyone associated with college football not remember the Ohio State tattoo debacle of a couple of years ago? You can bet Jim Tressel (former Ohio State head football coach) remembers.

Manziel has put his own eligibility and that of his team for post season play and championship opportunities at risk. Last time I checked, it took at least 26 players (I'm counting the kickers here) to win a game. Johnny Football wouldn't get far without blockers or someone to throw the ball to. And  unless I missed something, I haven't seen him line up on defense, a required part of the game if you're going to somehow stop the other team from scoring.

Do I agree with the NCAA rules? In many cases I don't. Do I think the NCAA can be arbitrary and inconsistent in its enforcement of the rules? In many cases I do. But just because you disagree with a rule doesn't give you the right to break it without risking penalties. Just because you think that 35 mile per hour  speed limit is a little on the low side doesn't mean you can go 50 and expect to be let off the hook. If you feel strongly about the speed limit, show up at a city or county council meeting, write a letter to a councilman or otherwise utilize the process to change the speed limit. But if you choose to drive in that municipality, then you have to obey the laws or pay the price. For Johnny Manziel, that means playing by the rules if he's going to play NCAA football, especially at its highest levels.

The last complicating factor here is that unlike baseball, basketball, golf, tennis or soccer, Manziel has no other place to play except in the NCAA because the NFL won't accept players until they have been out of high school for three years. So until the rules are changed, he's just left to accept and abide by the current set of NCAA bylaws. Is it right? Is it fair? Could it be better? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, but for now, it's what we have.

"Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" by Kevin Krest now available in E-book formats at Smashwords.com and Amazon.com.

Follow me on Twitter @KevinKrest


PED's REVISITED, PGA PREVIEW and IT'S NFL AND NCAA FOOTBALL TIME

PED's Revisited: Today on ESPN's "The Herd", host Colin Cowherd made an interesting observation on the makeup of the list of 13 players suspended Monday for their ties to Biogenesis America. An overwhelming majority of the players are from the Dominican Republic. While making an excellent point about the players' motivation to do anything to escape that impoverished nation, Cowherd could have taken the conversation a bit farther. We have always had a fascination with how an island country with a population of just over 10 million could supply almost a fourth of all Major League Baseball players. Well, perhaps now we have at least a glimpse of why that is occurring. If PED's don't provide an unfair advantage, we wouldn't be so upset by the use of them by Barry Bonds, Roger Clements, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez, to name just a few who have obliterated the record books, seemingly with the assistance of banned substances. Therefore, doesn't it make sense to start to question the validity of these Dominican players' rise to the Major Leagues ahead of other athletes who have not been using PED's? Although we have no control over the PED laws in the Dominican Republic, we surely have jurisdiction over the unfair infiltration of Major League Baseball by juiced athletes that come from a system or a country where there is an obvious incentive to circumvent the rules. I'm not saying there are not a lot of worthy Dominican players, but if they're worthy, let them earn their roster spots without the use of PED's.

PGA Tournament Preview: It's no secret to readers of this blog that I am a big proponent of Tiger Woods. Given his performance last week on a major tournament-like venue with narrow fairways, long rough and fast greens, it makes sense to make him the favorite this week. Of course, his four other tournament victories and two top tens in majors contribute to that line of reasoning. But there are some other players who should be near the top of the favorite list, as well. We can start with Phil Mickelson, The Open Championship winner and runner-up at the U.S. Open. Oak Hill, the site of this week's tournament, is likely to play more like a U.S. Open venue, given that it's hosted multiple national championships. Players that can go long, but keep the ball in the fairway will have a big advantage this week. Tiger, with his three wood and long iron stingers fits that mold. But since taking his driver out of the bag, so does Phil. I don't make much of his 21st place finish last week at Firestone. After all, after Tiger's 61 on Friday, everyone else was playing for second place. However, Phil played pretty well on the weekend and could be in the mix come Sunday at Oak Hill. I also like Luke Donald, still looking for that elusive major. Countryman Justin Rose's U.S. Open triumph at Merion earlier this summer has to have Donald wondering when he'll be able to pull one off. The reason Donald comes to mind is because he can hit his driver straight. Why he hasn't contended in more majors is a mystery to me. Zach Johnson has also been playing well and he quietly snuck into fifth place at Firestone with a 68 - 67 on the weekend.  Among some other top players, Matt Kuchar and Keegan Bradley are worth mentioning. Both can hit the ball straight and long, and of course Bradley already has one PGA win under his belt. At the end of the day, I think it's Tiger's to lose. If he plays well, someone else will really have to have a special tournament to beat him. It's been five years since his last major, and I predict that drought will come to an end on Sunday, quieting the "Tiger's not back yet" talk.

It' Football Time: Whether it's college or pro, it's time for some football. I'm not big on preseason games and rarely watch one. So for me, we still have almost three weeks left until any real action. As a Virginia Tech Hokie, the season couldn't kick off in a more challenging fashion, having to watch to see if my team can stay with defending national champion and preseason number one Alabama. The Hokies aren't ranked, so apparently that challenge will be as daunting as any in recent years. I'll weigh in on this one in more detail as game day approaches. I'm currently working on my own Top 25 and I wouldn't be surprised if you don't see some big surprises.

As far as the NFL goes, my Redskins' fate is seemingly in the hands of those responsible for the recovery of Robert Griffin III's injured and repaired knee. I'm also working on my predictions for the season, which I'll release division by division over last couple of weeks in August. For now, though, we'll have to be satisfied with what might be and with who might not play.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Back to the Blog - A-Rod, Tiger and Johnny Football

Back to the Blog: I've taken some time off from the blog to complete and publish "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel". It's about a sportscaster and covers over twenty years, from the highs of success to the lows of scandals. It's available at www.smashwords.com and www.amazon.com in E-book formats. Read and enjoy!

A-Rod, A-Rod, A-Rod: Although twelve other players were given suspensions for their involvement with the Biogenesis of America clinic in South Florida, the totality of their punishment is dwarfed by the media attention devoted to Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. And I guess given his outrageous contracts and ability to so far escape punishment for admitted PED use, it probably should. My big problem with it all is that as many alleged violations as he's committed, he still has a case to make that he's a first offender. I know that point of view will probably prompt criticism, but I didn't agree to the rules that baseball and the players' union established. My personal opinion is that all PED users should be banned for life, just like gamblers. But that wasn't the agreement. So you can't have it both ways. Bud Selig wants to say, "Well, this is really bad, so we'll throw the book at him." However, if you'd wanted to throw the book at someone, then you needed to put the book throwing into the collective bargaining agreement under section 23, paragraph 4, "PED's, book throwing at users", or something like that. Considering the way Major League Baseball mishandled this from the beginning, I think, unfortunately, that A-Rod has a point. I still maintain that through their tolerance of the issue until it became to big to ignore, MLB not only benefitted from PED use in the post-strike era, they actually encouraged it. Now we have what we have, an entire generation of otherwise gifted athletes like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa who just had to get better, even though great was probably good enough. Even those that were deserving of the Hall of Fame prior to their PED use will never get in, a circumstance for which MLB is partially responsible. I don't have a problem with A-Rod fighting this to the end. After all, it's his career and his income at stake. For me, it's just something to write about.

Johnny, Johhny, Johnny: Heisman Trophy winner Johhny Manziel is a runaway train, and Texas A&M coach better pull the air brakes or stop stoking the engine. The only way to get this kid's attention will be to sit his spoiled you know what on the bench until he gets with the program. Football is a team game, even in the NFL, the next stop for Johnny Football, if he's lucky. And right now, I don't see much of a team focus for the guy who should be the leader. Was I 20 and in college, partying when I could and hoping to make it through class? Sure. But I wasn't a scholarship athlete, a quarterback no less, on a top ten football team. The only person hurt when I had to show up for a test with too little sleep and the taste of beer from the night before in my mouth was myself. For Johnny Manziel, it's not that simple. In addition, if he doesn't come clean and ends up playing in games that he is later ruled ineligible for, he's depriving 84 other scholarship athletes of making it to bowl game, or even worse for years to come. So as far as I'm concerned, he's a selfish spoiled brat whose enabler is named Kevin Sumlin. Come on Kevin, teach the kid a lesson and see if he's capable of finally learning.

Tiger, Tiger, Tiger: Okay, let's see what Tiger has done this year so far: 11 events, 5 wins, 2 other top tens, both in majors. Really? Do people not understand how remarkable that record is? Sure, no majors, but he did win the Players, by most considered the men's fifth major. His efficiency is remarkable, not to mention his golf. At the tender age of 37, he is only three wins away from matching Sam Snead's career win total of 82, most of which were against fields where there were no more than four or five players with a realistic chance to win. Nothing against Snead, a terrific golfer, but really now. The record that Tiger is about to set has almost no chance of ever being touched. He can realistically put up close to 100 wins before he's finished. To put it in perspective, Phil Mickelson, the second best golfer of the generation, has managed to capture 42 wins and 5 majors. That's an unbelievable career, and it's barely half Tiger's victories and a third of his majors. And get this, Tiger has done it in 304 events to Phil's 484. Tiger's winning percentage is an amazing .260. Heck, that's a decent major league lifetime batting average. Tiger is teeing it up against between 70 and 156 players every week, and manages to come out on top 26% of the time. And this year it's a staggering 45%. The player considered the best of all time, Jack Nicklaus, teed it up 594 times and won 73 times with 18 of those in major championships. His winning percentage? 12%. That's right. The greatest of all time with a winning percentage less than half that of Tiger Woods. Now to be fair, Jack probably had 50 or so ceremonial starts late in his career, so let's give him 540 competitive starts. Wow! We're up to a whopping 14%. You see where I'm going with this, don't you? Greatest of all time is Tiger Woods. Hands down. No comparison, except in the majors, and Jack didn't play against the world. There were very few international players outside of Gary Player and Tony Jacklin that could realistically compete for major championships. Jack's competitive landscape was a great deal narrower than Tiger's, and I know, because I've been watching it all since 1962.  Case closed.